Please excuse my absence on this page yesterday. As you know I write a fresh column every day and, if I’ll be absent, I always explain the reason why – a trip, vacation, etc.

Yesterday was simply a question of being in too much pain to write.

For about 10 or so days I have been bothered by pain, first very slight, and a touch of swelling on my right ankle. I thought it night be the temporary result of a very slight twisted ankle on the cobblestone of St. Peter’s Square about two weeks ago. I did visit some doctors in the Vatican, was told by each of them that it was an infection in my ankle and even had a Doppler test to exclude phlebitis. I followed their orders, took the prescribe antibiotics and there was just no improvement.

Yesterday and today the pain was unbearable, thus my decision this morning to go to the emergency room at the very nearby Santo Spirito hospital. Busses, trains and planes were all on strike throughout Italy today and for this reason it was close to impossible to find a taxi – waits were very long. I tried, as my Mother advised us when we had disappointments growing up, to “offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory!”

In any case, staff at Santo Spirito (in a totally renovated emergency area) was great. The doctor confirmed a very bad infection and I had a procedure that made the pain of previous days seem like child’s play! I totally forgot why but he did give me a reason they could not use anesthesia to kill the pain.

I have a topical medicine to use twice a day for 5 days and an antibiotic, twice a day for 6 days. I have been told the pain should diminish each day as my body rids itself completely of any residual infection, swelling, etc. As I write, no one understands how this occurred – an insect bite has been the favorite hypothesis.

I can tell you one thing when physical pain is excruciating: it is very hard to pray.

Working helped take my mind off things so, until yesterday, I wrote a daily column and also managed all this past week and last to write and then film segments of AT HOME with Jim and Joy for the film crew came to my home: Thanks so much, my friends! Last night I wrote until about 8 as I had to prepare “Vatican Insider” news segment and my Vatican radio weekly show, “Joan Knows,” that I usually tape on Fridays – did it today over the phone.

So many people wanted to know how things turned out today that writing these lines was easier than responding to each email.

Thanks for continued prayers.

VATICAN INSIDER this weekend: For a number of reasons, the interview segment will be “The Best of” but the news segment is current. My guest is Eliyo. Eliyo is the professional name of Sarah Ego, an Assyrian Orthodox singer who was born in Augsburg, Germany. We met at one of her concerts in the Vatican where she sang traditional German Christian chorals as well as several songs in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and the Apostles, Schubert’s Ave Maria in Latin and several Christmas carols in English. We talk about her concerts and her dreams.